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With the announcement that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI, Marktl am Inn changed from a sleepy little Bavarian village to an active center of world media attention.

Birthplace of Pope Benedict XVI

Marktl am Inn -- Birthplace of Benedict XV
Marktl am Inn - Birthplace of Benedict XVI.

At 5.20pm on April 19th, 2005 Markt Marktl was still a quiet little village of only 2,700 inhabitants on the River Inn, in Bavaria (Germany); that not many people had heard of and probably never thought of making a pilgrimage to in their lives.

The quaint little church still had a tribute to the late Pope John Paul II beneath the pulpit; although the recently deceased Pontiff never actually visited the Gemeinde.

Tribute to Pope John Paul II in Marktl village church.
Tribute to Pope John Paul II in Marktl village church.

The church was empty and, due to the persistent drizzle, so was the main street (Markt Platz).

Markt Platz -- Marktl Am Inn.
Markt Platz -- Marktl Am Inn.

A picture postcard Bavarian village, Marktl has a couple of interesting murals painted on the walls of the Apotheke (Chemist) and Rathaus (Town Hall), both on Markt Platz.

Marktl Chemist with village church in background.
Marktl Chemist with village church in background.

Marktl Rathaus -- proud of religious tradition.
Mural on Marktl Rathaus (Town Hall).
Mural on Marktl Rathaus (Town Hall).

There's even a pleasantly laid out Heimat Museum, presenting old farming tools and other memorabilia related to the history of life in a small village, spread out over 11 small rooms.

Early painting of Marktl village -- in the Heimat Museum.
Early painting of Marktl village -- in the Heimat Museum.

At the end of Markt Platz, 11 Schulstrasse contains a plaque proclaiming that the Cardinal, Dr. Joseph Ratzinger was born in the house on 16th April, 1927.

Joseph Ratzinger Geburtshaus -- 16th April, 1927 Birthplace of Joseph Ratzinger -- Pope Benedict XVI.
Birthplace of Joseph Ratzinger - Pope Benedict XVI.

The village's famous son had recently held the funeral Mass for Pope John Paul II, in Vatican City and was at that very moment sitting in Conclave; to help decide who would become the 265th Pope; 264th successor to Peter.

Cardinal Ratzinger was considered among the front runners himself, but only a TV crew from Bayerische Rundfunk had established themselves in a car park behind the Town Hall. There was a camera mounted in front of the Rathaus and a television screen on a stool showed live pictures from Rome. No-one paid much interest.

Another camera team from Munich were taking stills of the ghostly village while the NBC reporter they accompanied stationed himself in the local Gasthaus; watching the images from Rome, with a few locals in the warm.

At around 5.50pm, the BR technicians, watching live pictures from Rome in one of the vans, saw smoke rise on their monitors. It looked grey, seemed to go darker but slowly lightened.

Bayerische Rundfunk technician watches smoke rise and the bells toll in The Vatican from their base in Marktl.
Bayrische technician in Marktl watching live pictures from Rome.

The smoke turned towards white. There was a tense silence. Then the sound of bells from The Vatican rang out.

Live pictures of Benedict XVI on The Vatican balcony, as shown in Marktl -- courtesy of Bayerishe Rundfunk.

A few people had by now gathered in front of the Rathaus to watch the small television there.

The wait for the announcement of who the new Pope actually was, seemed like an eternity.

Then the village church bell chimed and Marktl's famous son appeared on the Vatican balcony, as Benedict XVI.

Two women hugged each other with delight as hasty celebrationary preparations had to be made.

First Celebrations in Marktl. Cardinal Ratzinger is 265th Pope.
First Celebrations in Marktl - Cardinal Ratzinger is the 265th Pope.

The flowers and red drapery previously used as a tribute to Pope John II, in the village church, were brought out and set up in front of the Rathaus; with Ratzinger's house of birth in the background.

A photograph of Cardinal Ratzinger was then presented and hung up proudly.

Ratzinger Tribute in Marktl, with his house of birth in the background. Women of Marktl provide the finishing touches to Benedict XVI tribute.
Women of Marktl provide the finishing touches to their Benedict XVI tribute.

A couple of freelance photographers appeared as smiling children with small, yellow and white Vatican flags congregated beneath the picture of Joseph Ratzinger.

Children of Marktl with Vatican flags.
Children of Marktl with Vatican flags.

More people arrived with umbrellas, while the BR reporter waited to interview the Bürgermeister (Mayor) of Marktl; before other television crews appeared on the scene. He was out of luck.

The Mayor of Marktl, Hubert Gschwendtner, eventually strode forward, to read out a moving speech to the gathered crowd and news media.

Mayor of Marktl, Hubert Gschwendtner, announces that Cardinal Ratzinger is Pope Benedict XVI and there's free beer after Mass. Bayerische Rundfunk report live from Marktl.
Bürgermeister Hubert Gschwendtner -- Live from Marktl.

The small streets of Marktl were now closed off to traffic by local firemen, as the village didn't have any police.

Marktl street closed off by firemen.
Marktl street closed off by firemen.

After the Bürgermeister's speech, there was a traditional Bayern gun salute, outside the church, before the townsfolk crowded into the small church for Mass.

Traditional Bayern gun salute, outside the church in Marktl.
Traditional Bayern gun salute, outside the church in Marktl.

Mass preparations in Marktl.Choirboys in Marktl.
First Mass in Marktl, For Benedict XVI.
First Mass in Marktl, For Benedict XVI.

An evening of free beer and Bavarian music then followed the Mass.

On The Morning of April 20th

Before Benedict XVI had even held his first Mass in The Vatican, the village of Marktl experienced its first taste of the world attention to follow.

News media from neighbouring countries descend on Marktl.
News media from neighbouring countries descend on Marktl.

Television crews and reporters from neighbouring countries swarmed into Markt Platz with their satellites and then set about photographing the font used to baptise the young Joseph Ratzinger (now in the Heimat Museum) as well as the new Papal creations by the local baker and butcher.

Media in the Marktl Heimat Museum.
Television crews in the Marktl Heimat Museum.

Journalists from the UK's Guardian and Telegraph newspapers signed their names in the Museum's guestbook as we were leaving, while those from further afield were no doubt still on their flights to Munich.

Baptismal font in Marktl Heimat Museum.Font where Joseph Ratzinger was baptised.
Marktl font where Joseph Ratzinger was baptised in 1927.

It was hoped that the new Pope's brother would pay a visit to the village in the evening, as Marktl am Inn became a sought out name on the world map.

Once the media circus has packed up and gone, it is expected the pilgrims will start to arrive in Marktl am Inn, to visit the birthplace of Benedict XVI.

Visiting Marktl am Inn

Marktl is best reached by car along the Munich to Passau B12, where the road meets the B20, at the River Inn.

The Gasthof Altenbuchner (tel: 08678/249) is located on the bank of the River Inn, just over the bridge from Marktl, at Burghauser Str. 10.

There's also a small railway station on the other side of the village, where the 14-room Gasthof Pension Hummel is conveniently located. The restaurant there is closed on Tuesdays but there's an Italian restaurant close by.

If rooms are full in Marktl, you could try the Gasthaus Bonimeier, in nearby Niedergottsau.

Marktl Tourist Information

When we were there, the local tourist information service was set up in the lobby of the local Gasthaus, next to the house where Benedict XVI was born. They had a map of the area and a few leaflets about local accommodation.

Cycling Along The Inn

Marktl is also situated on the Inntal-Radweg (650km cycle route from the source of the Inn, near St. Moritz in Switzerland, to where the river joins the Danube at Passau) so you may want to reserve your rooms in advance, if you intend to spend the night here.

By Michel.
Contact MichelMichel on FacebookMichel on Google+Michel on LinkedInProud Member of The Meta-Travel CommunityMichel on TwitterTravelPhotos on SmugMug

Pope Resigns

On February 28th, 2013 at 8pm Roman time, Pope Benedict XVI officially stepped down as Pope and kicked off his red shoes in Castel Gandolfo.

Picture of The Pope in a museum held in the house where he was born

Is The Pope’s Resignation The End of Marktl As a Tourist Destination?

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Related Websites

Marktl Tourism:
The official website of Marktl am Inn.

Farewell Pope John Paul:
A look back at the travels of Pope John Paul II.

The Vatican:
Official website of the Holy See.

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